‘Lab rat’ label hurts writer

News of nutritional experiments conducted on children at residential schools brings back bad memories for Port Alberni woman.

To the Editor,

Re: Red Cross not part of experiments, July 25.

Being compared to a lab rat is hurtful.  Discovering that we were deliberately starved as children in residential school raises strong emotions; sadness, anger and frustration added to the fact that we were little children who could do nothing but endure.

The news story of July 18, brought back memories – deeply buried – accompanied by a sense of desperate sadness as I re-experienced what I did to try to make my hunger go away.  The most desperate act was to pick up old, dry plants and peel the outside bark to eat the softer, inner part as we were on Sunday afternoon walks, being herded like cattle in the field around the Anglican church.

Is it any wonder that a knee infection would not heal and I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where I had nightmares due to hospital staff coming to the door of my room to look at the kid whose head was wrapped in a towel, being deloused?

In spite of the fact that an apple orchard existed beside the girls’ playground, we were forbidden to go over the fence to get any apples.  Sometimes when no one was watching, a girls would crawl under the fence and quickly toss the apples to us. If caught, we had to give the apples back.

In Port Alberni, a few days after the story broke in the news about this “nutrition experiment,” I had a heated discussion with someone who proceeded to describe how aboriginals don’t know how to work and expect everything to be handed to them.  I was fortunate to have another female residential school survivor back me up, while other people observed.

During the discussion, a non-native male silently moved closer to us two women. His non-verbal message did not go unnoticed by the group. I appreciate the compassion that he silently demonstrated.

Wilma Doxtdator,

Port Alberni

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shipyard upgrade on Port Alberni’s waterfront means MV Frances Barkley retrofit happens at home

Canadian Maritime Engineering expands equipment to accept larger vessels

BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni department heads asked to justify costs

Faulty firefighter breathing gear, ballooning Uptown costs, train marketing all questioned

Port Alberni café, pair of teens rally support for Australia bush fire relief

Boomerangs Café plans three-day fundraiser; teens prepare to help in wildlife recovery

Agricultural Land Commission approves cannabis facility in Beaver Creek

Proposed facility outside Port Alberni had been caught up in ALR red tape

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Advocates call hospital parking fees a ‘shakedown’ after learning most Island tickets are waived

Victoria General and Royal Jubilee hospitals among the most ticketed on the Island

University of Victoria tells stories of Holocaust survivors with graphic novels

International storytelling initiative launched first meetings this winter

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Most Read